Forever 21 Founder Doesn’t Know Much About Her Company

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The Forever 21 shirts are on the top row, Trovata's are on the bottom. Photo: Courtesy Photo

Forever 21 co-founder Jin Sook Chang testified in the trial brought against her company by Trovata, which alleges that the fast-fashion chain knocked off a few of its tops. Chang examined the striped Trovata cardigan and the alleged copy on the witness stand, and said she didn't see what the problem was. “Even at Gap, Old Navy and those stores, they sell this similar type of stripe. It is available at all places," she said, "Stripes, they are always similar.” And that is why arguing this case could be tough for Trovata, no matter how blatant the knocking off may seem. Trovata is trying to argue that Forever 21's use of similar design details constitutes an infringement of the label's intellectual property.

Chang, speaking through a Korean translator, said she had never even heard of Trovata until they sued her. Burn. She didn't know much more about her own company. Other than her husband, she couldn't identify Forever 21's officers. She said she had never seen the company's financial statement:

Asked by Colucci whether she would be “surprised” if Forever 21’s sales exceeded $1.5 billion annually, Chang responded, “Yes, it’s surprising. I didn’t know.”


So she doesn't know who runs her company or how much it makes. Amazing. As head buyer for the chain, Chang oversees a team of six or seven who select what to purchase from vendors. She doesn't know how the garments are made — "we simply trust the vendors and they manufacture the garment for us.” Selecting from the samples is easy. "We choose pretty ones," she explained. Sometimes she purchases things and then asks the vendors to alter them to make them pretty. She added that her team is aware of the copyright issue — for which Forever 21 has been sued more than 50 times over the last three and a half years — and tries to select garments that won't present legal complications. "[W]e thought this particular stripe would not cause any problems, so we didn’t review this,” Chang said.

Oh, man. This is not looking good for Trovata. It's like when women compete for male attention in bars. It's hard to beat the girl who's just as pretty as you but acts really, really dumb, even when she's not.

Forever 21 Co-founder Testifies in Trial [WWD]